Dec. 1 (UPI) — Dr. Scott Atlas, a controversial member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, announced Monday he would step down from his role in the White House.
Atlas thanked “several selfless colleagues in designing specific policies to heighten protection of the vulnerable while safely reopening schools and society” in his resignation letter, dated Dec. 1, which he posted on Twitter Monday. Atlas was serving a temporary 130-day post, which was about to expire.
Atlas, a professor of neuroradiology with no infectious disease background, frequently conflicted with other medical members of the task force. He served as a personal coronavirus adviser to Trump. Other members of the task force worried that his influence and inaccurate understanding of the pandemic could endanger the group’s message to U.S. residents.
Atlas repeatedly gave out inaccurate and contradictory health information, prompting Twitter in October to remove one of his tweets that said “Masks work? NO!” Atlas also advocated the concept of “herd immunity” and said children were unlikely to catch the virus.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield was overheard on a flight in September complaining that “Everything [Atlas] says is wrong!”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious diseases expert, criticized Atlas’s views on the pandemic earlier this month.
“I don’t want to say anything against Dr. Atlas as a person, but I totally disagree with the stand he takes. I just do, period,” Fauci said on NBC’s Today.
Atlas also urged residents of Michigan to “rise up” in response to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s COVID-19 restriction orders, in a tweet that was later removed. This caused discord among his conservative colleagues at Stanford’s Hoover Institution. Atlas later said his tweet was misinterpreted.
Atlas said in Monday’s resignation letter that he was proud to serve “without any political consideration or influence.”
He defended his often controversial recommendations, saying, “it is the free exchange of ideas that lead to scientific truths, which are the foundation of any civilized society.”